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Indiana Daily Student

‘You are not your success’: Women in law speak to IU’s pre-law fraternity at IMU

<p>Julie Baffoe, president of the Feminist Law Forum at IU, speaks at an event about women in law March 3 in the Oak Room in the Indiana Memorial Union. The event was presented by Phi Alpha Delta as part of Women’s History Month.</p>

Julie Baffoe, president of the Feminist Law Forum at IU, speaks at an event about women in law March 3 in the Oak Room in the Indiana Memorial Union. The event was presented by Phi Alpha Delta as part of Women’s History Month.

Four women in the law field spoke to members of an IU pre-law fraternity Tuesday at the Indiana Memorial Union about their experiences and struggles through law school and their careers.

The fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta, coordinated the event because women can feel underrepresented in a lot of fields, secretary on the fraternity’s executive board Claribell Quinones said. She said the event was meant to make women in law more visible and show that women can be successful in the field.

The women spoke about their careers, their struggles with working in law as women and advice they would give themselves and future generations of law students.

“I would tell myself that you are not your success or lack thereof,” president of the Feminist Law Forum at IU Julie Baffoe said. “That doesn’t define who you are and neither does any failure.”

Baffoe said one of Feminist Law Forum's goals is to advocate against sexism in the legal profession.

Director of the low-income taxpayer clinic at Indiana Legal Services Karen Ward said she felt like people didn’t take her as seriously in the early stages of her career.

“Some people had condescending attitudes,” Ward said. “That’s not everybody, but it is kind of frustrating. The best way that I found to counteract it is to just be better at your job.” 

Social chair of IU’s Women’s Law Caucus Melanie Magdun said the law caucus is meant to connect women to other women in law. She said the group also fundraises for Middle Way House, which benefits survivors of domestic abuse. 

Magdun said she and her group encourage women to speak up. She said when women get a job, they are sometimes still in a predominantly male work environment, so their voices need to be heard. 

Christina Clark, vice president and associate general counsel at Strada Education Network spoke about what working for a nonprofit organization means to her. Strada Education Network improves access to college and helps students finish their education, according to its website.

“Instead of how much money, you ask how many people will this help,” Clark said. “You’re trying to make the world a better place, and that feels good — it makes you want to keep going back.” 

Shefali Prabhakar, a freshman in Phi Alpha Delta, said she enjoyed the panel because the women were able to talk freely about their experiences and true thoughts about the profession. 

“I see more events like this panel, having women talk about how they tackle that stigma of being the minority in the room,” Prabhakar said. “It's really amazing to hear them."

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